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Special town meeting for school funding
ANDOVER- There will be a special town meeting on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the town hall to see if citizens will agree to raising an additional $72,000 to fund the elementary school for the 2013-2014 school year.
During the annual town meeting in March, citizens haggled over whether or not to raise $100,000 to help in negotiations with the SAD 44 board. To no avail, voters rejected the proposal and decided to offer $68,000, the same as in 2011.
Selectman Richard Merrill, noted during the town meeting, “Offering money up front is a bad sign if you ask me. If the school board sees how much we’re willing to spend, then that’s the amount they’re going to want. It sets a bad precedent.”
Two years ago, SAD 44 accepted the town’s offer to raise $214,000 to keep their school open and last year the magic number was $68,000. Townspeople were hoping they could do the same this year, but last month, the school board rejected the amount.
Over the last year, representatives of the town formed a committee to withdraw from the SAD 44 and perform as their own school district. To date they continue to negotiate with the board.
Their committee meets on Sundays at 6 p.m. in their public library and their meetings are open to the public
Currently, the committee is waiting to hear from the commissioner of the Department of Education on an agreement, as the DOE will be responsible for setting a date for town vote to withdraw.
The Andover Elementary School has a current enrollment of 42 children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Parents are not only concerned for their children's education and to remain in a small class size, but they also fear the time they will spend riding on the bus for the travel to and from Bethel.
Citizens are also concerned that they will lose the draw for families looking to relocate. "Without a school, what family is going to look to Andover to buy a home and make themselves part of our community," stated Roger Sabin, during the annual town meeting.